Play depicting life of New Jersey women’s suffrage activist Alice Paul filmed at her childhood home
An activist from New Jersey who played a critical role in women obtaining the right to vote is the focus of a new play recorded as a film.
The fight for women’s right to vote is told through the eyes of suffrage leader Alice Paul in the play “Votes for Women.” It is a historical drama recorded last year in Paul’s childhood home in Mount Laurel.
Joelle Zazz portrays Paul in the play. She says that being able to be inside Paul’s childhood home was impactful.
“As an actor, you don’t usually get to really go to the place where these people lived. We sort of have to put ourselves in the hearts and mindsets of these people,” she says. “To actually be there…it hit a lot closer to home than I think any other role I’ve done.”
Paul organized the pivotal 1913 suffrage march in Washington on which "Votes for Women" is based. It was an event that also exposed the racial divisions within the movement, including a confrontation with activist Ida B. Wells.
The play was produced by Speranza Theatre Company. The play was performed in parks throughout Jersey City last summer, with cast members required to wear masks due to COVID safety measures. Speranza's artistic director Heather Wahl wanted the project to reach an audience virtually.
“I had a ‘lightbulb moment’ of ‘What if?’ Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could film at Alice Paul’s childhood home?” Wahl says.
The property is now home to the Alice Paul Institute.
"Votes for Women" will be released for streaming this weekend, 100 years after Paul's efforts helped secure women the right to vote in 1920. It is also a little more than a week after the nation saw the first woman sworn in as vice president of the United States.
Tickets to Sunday's virtual premiere are available through the theater company's website.